The Kansas City Royals broke the news that Salvador Perez will miss four to six weeks due to a Grade 2 MCL tear on his left leg. Needless to say, it is hard to find good news anywhere in this. But you can if you look really hard.
We all know that the Royals want to be competitive, however, we also know they are in a rebuild. Therefore, the news of Salvador Perez missing a significant amount of time does not really hurt the bottom line for the Royals.
However, any type of injury like this to any player is hard to take. Finding good news is also really hard to do because the bad and ugly are so big. However, in this article, we are going to find the good in this, somehow.
Everyone likes starting with good news. So we are going to start with good news.
The good news really has nothing to do with Perez. What I mean by this simply goes in line with the other catchers. Due to the injury of Perez, 25-year-old catcher, Cam Gallagher is going to get an extended stay with the team. It may be wishful thinking, but Gallagher could end up being the backup catcher this year if current backup Drew Butera is traded in July.
Gallagher made his MLB debut last year and played in 13 games with the Royals. During that time he hit .250/.333/.417 with two extra-base hits (one being a grand slam) and striking out four times while walking three times.
During his stay in Triple-A last year, his first time in Triple-A, Gallagher was impressive. In his 73 games, he hit .292/.336/.400 with five home runs and 13 doubles. Durning that time he walked 20 times while striking out just 33 times. He did not show a lot of power, but being a guy who gets on consistently is important.
His Spring Training was similar to what his performance with the Royals was last year. He only played in 10 games, slashing a .263/.391/.421 with two extra-base hits, a double and triple. During his 10 games, he struck out twice and walked twice. Gallagher seems to show plate discipline.
Defensively, he is pretty solid as well. Fielding percentage is not the end-all-be-all for a catcher as much as it is catching guys stealing bases. While behind the plate in Omaha, 43 runners stole on Gallagher while 23 were thrown out. Meaning he threw out 35% of runners trying to steal on him. To put that in perspective for you, last year Perez threw out just 27% of runners. [yes I understand the difference between MLB baserunners and Triple-A base runners. It is still something to watch though.]
Also, Gallagher has great chemistry with a Royals pitcher that is showing to have a bright future. In the three games when Gallagher caught Jakob Junis, Junis posted a 2.25 ERA over 20.0 innings of work. Hopefully, those two get more time to work together while Gallagher is with the big league team.
To keep with the trend, when looking at Butera he has been a serviceable backup. However, he is currently in the last year of his contract. With Gallagher showing last year that he can compete at the big league level, and depending on how Gallagher performs this year, Butera might find himself on the block come July.
Butera will not bring in anything of great value for the Royals. However, something in return is better than nothing and letting him walk at the end of the year.
The likelihood of this happening is very slim, simply because many teams are not going to trade for a backup catcher that has only hit above .200 twice in his career. It would all depend on how Butera performs, and if the Royals can find a team looking for a backup that is contending.
The bad is pretty easy to see. The Royals do not have a lot of consistent power on their team. They were most likely hoping that Perez would build on his 27 home run season and continue being a power bat in the lineup. Without Perez, the consistent power in the lineup will come from Mike Moustakas and Lucas Duda. Both are capable of being consistent power hitters but have had their fair share of inconsistencies at times.
The other hard part of this injury is that Perez is a leader of the team. His presence with the team is hard to replicate, and his presence behind the plate is even harder.
For years, Perez has been one of the best catchers in the league. His pitchers trust him, he backs the pitchers up when it comes to potential baserunners stealing, and he is capable of slowing the game down if needed. Everything you want in a leader.
This might be the biggest part of this injury. The fact that it is a Grade 2 tear of his MCL means that he might need surgery to repair the tear. If he has to have surgery then he might be out longer than the four to six-week estimate. Ned Yost mentioned that he does not believe he will have to have surgery, but that could change as time goes on.
The elephant in the room needs to be addressed as well. A knee injury is always bad. It is worse for a catcher. The amount of bending a catcher has to do makes a knee injury significantly worse.
Perez has also had his fair share of knee injuries. The face of the franchise is banged up pretty bad for only being 27-years-old. Therefore, a change might need to happen sooner, rather than later.
What I mean by this is moving him to first base, or even a permanent designated hitter. The amount of wear and tear the catcher has on his body shows that he might need to make the transition soon. Which we all know how that is going to go for Perez and his desire to play every day.
Since 2012, this is the fourth injury Perez has sustained to his knees. One caused him to have surgery and miss over 60 games in 2012. The other was in 2016 when Cheslor Cuthbert and Perez ran into each other. Then Butera collided with Perez during the World Baseball Classic. Now a Grade 2 MCL tear after falling.
Even though the injury was a freak accident and not one that happened on the field, it is a conversation that might need to start happening soon. I am not saying it has to happen now, or next year. But the pushing aside the Royals seem to do when this topic comes up probably needs to be a conversation soon.
Being a catcher every day might not be in the cards in the near future. These are points fans and media members have talked about for a while now. The idea of giving him more days off, or moving him to the designated hitter spot more often has been a major discussion piece lately and perhaps the Royals will give it more thought this year.
What do you think Royals fans? Is there anything missed? Is the good, the bad, and the ugly justifiable? Let us know below!